NANTES, France - Kiefer Ravena and Kobe Paras combined in a late run that carried Team Pilipinas to a 21-15 win over seventh-seed Romania in its Fiba 3x3 World Cup debut on Monday morning.
Struggling to make their shots and getting beat in the battle for 50-50 balls for most of the match, the Filipinos came alive in the final three minutes to overhaul a 12-13 deficit to the delight of the sprinkling of Pinoy fans in the gallery.
Paras, the 19-year-old son of former PBA rookie-MVP Benjie, sparked the timely surge with a flamboyant drive to the basket before Ravena followed with an and-one and a two-point basket to put Team Pilipinas on top for good, 17-13, with 1:19 left.
The taller Romanians stayed within striking distance with a two-point basket before an amazing sequence from Paras - a two-point basket and a steal that led to two free throws - put the game away for the Filipinos, 21-15, with 30 seconds left.
The opening win put the 18th-seeded Filipinos on track to make the quarterfinals from the five-team Pool B, which also includes host France, second-seeded Slovenia, and El Salvador.
The top two from the group advance to the next round.
The Filipinos, which also got significant contributions from Jeron Teng and PBA player JR Quinahan, are set to play their second game of the day against France at 3:10 a.m. (Manila time).